Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Howard Porter
Letters: Steve Wands
It’s hard to believe that it has only been a year since the DC Rebirth Special. Over the past 12 months DC has, in my opinion, rehabbed their Universe from the calamity that the New 52 became and has become a compelling mix of modern storytelling and Silver Age sensibilities. It’s also been a year since Geoff Johns dared the impossible, or sacrilege depending on who you asked, and began an ambitious plan of bringing Watchmen to the DC Universe and ever since we’ve gotten references and innuendo but with The Button crossover it actually feels like that story is progressing and it looks to be an incredible ride. Last weeks Batman #21 was just the beginning of this grand yet concise story. With the Flash #21 the story kicks into high gear and I found myself more then once punching my fist into the air with pure excitement as Joshua Williamson (no doubt with a helping hand from Geoff Johns & Tom King) nailed every aspect of the DC universe that I love and set a course for a return of what DC has been missing for some time, a Multiverse.
Since its Rebirth return the Flash has been at the top of my read pile every other week and the Flash #21 was no different. Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter pick up right where Tom King and Jason Fabok left off in last weeks Batman #21 and push the story forward at a break neck pace, which is fitting for the title. We open with Johnny Thunder of the forgotten JSA, screaming for the return of his Lightning Bolt and teasing the return of that legendary team and setting them in their rightful WWII era. Seeing Johnny is obviously in line with Saturn Girl appearing in last week’s Batman #21 and referencing the return of the Legion of Superheroes. So hopefully we will soon not only see the return of the world’s first super team but also the super heroics of the future. We then transition to the Batcave, which after Batman #21 is a crime scene after the brutal fight between Batman and the Reverse Flash with the apparent death of the latter by an unknown ‘God’. The Flash is using his CSI skills to process the scene and piece together what happened to his arch nemesis and how it connects to the Speed Force. I enjoyed the criminal science expertise of the Flash was pushed here and actually has been a theme for the character during his entire Rebirth and it is even shown that evidence and investigation are the basis for much of Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne’s friendship. But the best part of the Flash #21 comes when the Cosmic Treadmill is pulled out of storage of the JLA satellite and our heroic duo transverse time and space, revisiting high and low points of their lives from the multiple timelines and eras of the DCU as they search for what is going on to them and their universe. Long time fans will enjoy this sequence while new fans can appreciate the complex history that DC tried to wipeout with the New 52 but is thankfully being restored in Rebirth. This sequence was the high point of the issue and set up what is a compelling cliffhanger and something I can’t wait to see play out in next week’s Batman #22.
Joshua Williamson has an excellent grasp of the Flash. He understands what makes the character tick and I am hoping for an incredibly long run from him. I don’t think I have enjoyed the Flash this much since the Mark Waid run. It was also a treat to see Howard Porter return to the title. I first fell in love with his rendition of the Flash (Wally West) in the pages of Grant Morrison’s JLA and he also had a nice run with Geoff Johns on the Flash title in the mid 2000s. Although his style has evolved since those tales he still has a strong design of the Flash and rendering him at high velocity. Hopefully he sticks around the title for awhile and becomes one of the rotating artists.
Verdict: The Flash #21 is a definite BUY! The Flash is a highlight of the Rebirth initiative and with the Button the book is at it’s absolute best. The characterizations are pitch perfect, the concept is enjoyable, and it will leave you wanting more.